Monday, September 22, 2008

When "we have to do something" is the worst reason of all

The conventional wisdom seems to be that a bad bill is better than no bill at all. Fortunately, Paul Krugman of the Times agrees with my point that the bailout as it has been presented thus far is a bad idea:

Mr. Paulson insists that he wants a “clean” plan. “Clean,” in this context, means a taxpayer-financed bailout with no strings attached — no quid pro quo on the part of those being bailed out. Why is that a good thing? Add to this the fact that Mr. Paulson is also demanding dictatorial authority, plus immunity from review “by any court of law or any administrative agency,” and this adds up to an unacceptable proposal.

I’m aware that Congress is under enormous pressure to agree to the Paulson plan in the next few days, with at most a few modifications that make it slightly less bad. Basically, after having spent a year and a half telling everyone that things were under control, the Bush administration says that the sky is falling, and that to save the world we have to do exactly what it says now now now.
This administration, which has proved its incompetence time and again - and continues to do so, with this crisis - is not in a position to say "trust us." I don't. The fact that they're doing this with the same technique they used to push through war in Iraq only reinforces my skepticism. Please, Democrats, don't give in to this blackmail! A good bill, which protects the small fish in the pond, or no bill at all!

And if you want to know where to start, let's ask Sen. Bernie Sanders, who as ever is one of the only ones who makes any sense in this country:

To pay for the bailout, which is estimated to cost up to $1 trillion, the government should:

a) Impose a five-year, 10 percent surtax on income over $1 million a year for couples and over $500,000 for single taxpayers. That would raise more than $300 billion in revenue;

b) Ensure that assets purchased from banks are realistically discounted so companies are not rewarded for their risky behavior and taxpayers can recover the amount they paid for them; and

c) Require that taxpayers receive equity stakes in the bailed-out companies so that the assumption of risk is rewarded when companies’ stock goes up.

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